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Responsibility for Climate Migration

During the search for the causes of the collapses of historical and modern societies, Jared Diamond’s Five Points Framework emphasizes the environmental factor as pivotal. In the same way historic nations met their demise when faced with the degradation of the environment, the modern world is jeopardized by climate change. As conflicts develop, the natural habitat degrades, which causes people to leave their homestead. Combined with the spread of the coronavirus, environmental degradation forces people to seek help in more developed countries. Studying how climate change pressures societies is essential in understanding the responsibilities of developed nations in assisting environmental migrants.

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Diamond’s framework’s view of the environment is not limited to resources, natural habitat, and climate. Instead, it encompasses a variety of aspects, including the relationships with neighbours and societal response to problems (TED, 2008). When a civilization is not able to overcome instability and resolve issues, its environment becomes increasingly hostile, which ultimately leads to its demise. As a result, according to this line of reasoning, it is possible to label Syrian refugees as environmental migrants.

Today, more and more people around the world are forced into migration. The planet is changing its physical properties as deserts become larger and sea level rises (McDonnell, 2018). It is projected that by 2070, 70% of the planet will have become inhospitable for living (Lustgarten, 2020). Economies of southern regions will suffer from the rise of temperatures, forcing millions of people to migrate into regions with less severe climate impact (Milman, 2018). These tendencies indicate a looming global migration crisis caused by climate change, which so far has no viable solution.

As a result, there is a new category of victims, which is not yet legally identified – climate migrants. The majority of them hail from developing nations, which have sustained extensive environmental damage. Meanwhile, the reason for the deterioration of their living conditions lies in a large amount of fossil fuel combustion in the industrialized economies (Nawrotzki, 2014). Although emissions are local, CO2 and greenhouse gases spread throughout the entire atmosphere. This has led to the belief that the resulting distribution of losses is not just, as developing economies have done not as much environmental damage as the developed nations have.

Considering that developed nations have actively contributed to climate change, it is inevitable that they will have to handle large flows of climate migrants. A possible solution is to recognize climate migrants on the UN level, distributing cost burden on the industrialized economies (Gibb & Ford, 2012). Without the recognition, the costs “will likely be borne by the most vulnerable countries, because most migrants do not travel far, especially if they are poor” (Gibb & Ford, 2012, p. 3). Not only is it fair to place the responsibility on the developed nations, but it is also the most viable option for the survival of the climate migrants.

Altogether, it should be evident that the environment in Diamond’s framework is the combination of political, social, and economic factors, the most evident of which is climate change. Migrations flows are projected to increase, with millions of people expected to be deprived of livelihood because of the excessive consumption in the industrialized economies. Already, there is a need for the introduction of a new type of migrants, who ought to be accepted by the same nations that have forced them into this position. If left unregulated, the abundance of social and economic issues will exacerbate the looming climate migration crisis.


Gibb, C., & Ford, J. (2012). Should the United Nations framework convention on climate change recognize climate migrants?. Environmental Research Letters, 7(4), 1-10.

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Lustgarten, A. (2020). The great climate migration. The New York Times. Web.

McDonnell, T. (2018). The refugees the world barely pays attention to. NPR. Web.

Milman, O. (2018). ‘We’re moving to higher ground’: America’s era of climate mass migration is here. The Guardian. Web.

Nawrotzki, R. J. (2014). Climate migration and moral responsibility. Ethics, Policy & Environment, 17(1), 69-87. Web.

TED. (2008). Why societies collapse | Jared Diamond [Video]. Web.

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